A Note from Paul Okami
I recall reading somewhere about a restaurateur who claimed to have opened his restaurant “so that I would have someplace good to eat.” My textbook, Psychology: Contemporary Perspectives, has a similar history. I had been teaching introductory psychology classes to university students, community college students, non-traditional returning students—even art students!—and I found that most of the textbooks had been conceived well prior to the turn of the century, and they tended to reflect 20th-century perspectives. I wanted a textbook that reflected the field as it existed at the dawn of the 21st century.
Balancing the demands of the traditional introductory psychology curriculum with the surge of new and emerging perspectives is not easy. How does one make sure to include important aspects of the traditional introductory course if one is intent on focusing on newer developments in the field? This is where I believe my book really does differ from similar textbooks. While I have included all of the traditional curriculum, I have chosen to use a “rebalancing” strategy. I accord less space to theories and research whose importance at this point is primarily historical, and more space to material that has gained increasing currency over the past several decades. The traditional material is fully alive in my book, but some of our “ancestral fathers and mothers” in psychological science are living in smaller dwellings!
In numerous cases, theorists whose work is often described in textbooks as “challenging the orthodoxy”—for example, the work of evolutionary psychologists, positive psychologists, behavior geneticists, cognitive scientists, and sociocultural psychologists—actually represent much of the current establishment in psychological science! My textbook reflects this reality.
I have also tried to make this book personal and readable. The primary function of a textbook is to inform and guide the student through a specific course of study. The material is exciting—why shouldn’t the writing be so as well? This has been another important goal. I certainly hope I have fulfilled it!